India Breaks the 2 GW Solar Barrier

by Joshua S Hill

A new update from the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) in India has proclaimed the country has passed the 2 GW landmark for grid-connected solar.

The figures showed that, as of September 30, 2013, the total solar installed capacity was just over 2000 MW, while off-grid power amounted to just south of 140 MW.

Grid Connected Solar PV, MegaWatts Installed -- India 2013
Grid Connected Solar PV, MegaWatts Installed — India 2013

The update was published on the MNRE website, while RESolve Energy Consultants are responsible for the graphs which follow.

Solar and Wind capacity additions 2013/2014 -- India
Solar and Wind capacity additions 2013/2014 — India

As can be seen, wind makes up a sizable portion of India’s total renewable energy makeup, with 19,881 MW of connected power. India’s wind energy target for 2013-14 sits at 2500, and they’ve already installed 808 MW so far — adding 102.5 in September alone.

Solar power doesn’t receive the same focus as it does in other countries, but it is still growing, with 395 MW deployed already in the 2013-14 time period — of which 111 was deployed in September, taking the number up to 2080 MW.

The news comes on the heels of continuous solar improvements in the country. Tuesday saw the news that Madhya Pradesh, a state in India, already has 202 MW installed and intends to “crank that up to 1,400 MW by the middle of 2015.”

And earlier this month India invited bids to build 750 MW of solar plants as part of Phase-2 of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM).

It’s the first time the country has opened up bidding since 2011, and the government is “offering 18.75 billion rupees ($303 million) in grants to the project from the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF).”

This article, India Breaks 2 GW Solar Barrier, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Joshua S Hill I’m a Christian, a nerd, a geek, a liberal left-winger, and believe that we’re pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I work as Associate Editor for the Important Media Network and write for CleanTechnica and Planetsave. I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), Amazing Stories, the Stabley Times and Medium.   I love words with a passion, both creating them and reading them.

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Next India Solar Leader, Madhya Pradesh, Aims For 1,400 MW Of Solar By 2015

by Nicholas Brown

Mughal Architecture in Madhya Pradesh.Image Credit: f9photos/Shutterstock.
Mughal Architecture in Madhya Pradesh.Image Credit: f9photos/Shutterstock.

At the moment, Madhya Pradesh, a state in India, has 202 MW of solar PV power capacity installed. However, it intends to crank that up to 1,400 MW by the middle of 2015. That is a bit ambitious. However, India has even bigger solar plans than that, such as a 4,000 MW plant, which would be the world’s largest. It also made a huge leap from 2 MW PV capacity in April 2012 to 202 MW today, and that is expected to increase to 220 MW by the end of 2013.

18 MW isn’t a tremendous increase, although it can still power 6,000 houses.

“In the second quarter of 2013, 191 MW of solar capacity was added in India, of which 145 MW was added in Madhya Pradesh, which is almost 80%,” said Mohanty.

According to PV Magazine, that is part of a much larger renewable energy initiative which involves the installation of 3,800 MW of clean energy projects planned for 2015. 1,900 MW of that will be wind power. Biomass will account for 300 MW, and small hydroelectric power stations 200 MW.

If this initiative is successful, 21.11% of the state’s electricity production capacity will be from renewable energy. In 2012, renewable energy stood at 5%.

S R Mohanty pointed out that: “There are currently 206 projects under execution, which will generate more than 4,000 MW of power through renewable energy.”

Some may argue that India has too much poverty to justify spending money on solar, and that the environment will have to wait. However, solar power costs have dropped tremendously in recent years and solar is actually the cheapest option for new electricity in locations off the grid all across the developing world. Off-grid installation and microgrid installations can take advantage of solar’s distributed and ubiquitous nature. With its solar resources, in India solar power is now cheaper than diesel. (It actually has been since 2011.)

Also, considering the economy, why should they spend even more money on imported  oil (which requires foreign exchange of cash) while they have so much poverty? A major step to getting out of a bad financial situation is owning your own property. That is the same reason why one may save to buy a house, rather than pay rent for the rest of their lives.

If India is going to become economically strong, it should use its tremendous solar and wind resources to make sure it is generating as much of its own energy as possible.

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This article, Next India Solar Leader, Madhya Pradesh, Aims For 1,400 MW Of Solar By 2015, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Nicholas Brown has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, geography, and much more. My website is: Kompulsa.

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Grid Parity, Low LCOE Driving 34% Global Renewables Capacity by 2030

by Silvio Marcacci

When it comes to global electricity generation, coal is still king – but not for long

Fast-changing economics mean renewable energy worldwide will represent 34% of all installed capacity by 2030, according to the World Energy Perspective: Cost of Energy Technologies — a report from the World Energy Council (WEC) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

Global levelized cost of electricity graph via World Energy Council
Global levelized cost of electricity graph via World Energy Council

The report finds many clean energy technologies are already cost competitive with fossil fuels and only getting cheaper, echoing another analysis that found US wind and solar costs fell 50% since 2008. As a result, fossil fuel’s slice of the world energy pie is projected to fall fast, from 67% in 2012 to 40%-45% in 2030.

Falling Renewable LCOE Powers Clean Energy Surge

Vast differences in the cost of building and generating power exist across the globe, but one trend is clear – the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) continues to fall for mature renewable energy technologies, placing them close to grid parity with fossil fuels. In addition, the cost of producing power from renewables fall continue at a rate related to the level of usage, a trend known as the “experience curve.”

Our study finds that although fossil fuels continue to dominate, renewable energy and the investment appetite for them are growing.

With wider deployment the price of renewables will fall, reducing the risk for investors, and we expect to see greater uptake over the years. — Guy Turner, Chief Economist at BNEF.

The WEC report uses several cost metrics exist to evaluate power generation including capital expenditures, operating expenditures, and capacity factor, but LCOE stands as arguably the most important indicator of renewable energy’s value because it’s the only one that evaluates the total lifecycle costs of producing a megawatt hour (MWh) of power.

LCOE is best explained as the price a project must earn per MWh in order to break even on investment and considers cash flow timing, development and construction, long-term debt, and tax implications to equally evaluate all energy technologies on an equal basis in terms of their actual costs.

But most importantly, LCOE underlines the ascendance of renewable energy across the world – especially wind and solar.

Wind Power Gusts Ahead

Wind power has already become the largest non-hydro renewable electricity source and is projected to more than triple from 5% of global installed capacity in 2012 to 17% by 2030, breezing past large hydropower. From 2000-2010 global onshore and offshore wind capacity increased 30% per year, reaching 200GW installed in 2010.

Onshore wind LCOE by region
Onshore wind LCOE by region graph via World Energy Council

Onshore wind’s LCOE has fallen 18% since 2009 on the strength of cheaper construction costs and higher capacity factors.

Turbine costs have fallen nearly 30% since 2008, outpacing the traditional experience curve.

The LCOE for onshore wind is cheapest in India and China, running between $47-$113 and making well-sited wind farms in these countries among the cheapest in the world – an incredibly important factor considering their surging demand for power is currently being met by coal.

The LCOE picture isn’t as clearly defined for offshore wind, as 95% of the world’s 4GW installed offshore wind capacity is located in European waters.

By 2020 installed capacity growth in Asia will surge, offsetting Europe’s dominance with 40% of all installed annual capacity – China alone will have 30% of all new capacity. As more offshore wind comes online in different markets, LCOE will become clearer.

Solar’s Remarkable Shine

But if wind’s LCOE drop has been steady, solar energy’s has been meteoric.

The WEC reports feed-in tariffs and plummeting photovoltaic module prices make solar competitive with most forms of power generation – in some markets with expensive power, like Germany, businesses with installed solar now find using their generated power more profitable than selling it to the grid.

Solar power LCOE over time chart via World Energy Council
Solar power LCOE over time chart via World Energy Council

As a result, solar power’s worldwide capacity will absolutely boom, growing from 2% of installed capacity in 2012 to 16% by 2030. China and Japan will be biggest beneficiary of solar’s rise, with China set to exceed 50GW installed solar by 2020.

The WEC’s forecast for solar power is incredible, but even this outlook is underestimates solar’s clean energy potential, because it only includes projects above 1 megawatt in capacity – completely ignoring the spread of small-scale rooftop solar and the rise of distributed generation

Solar power LCOE by region graph via World Energy Council
Solar power LCOE by region graph via World Energy Council
Fossil Fuel’s Achilles Heel: Operational Costs

In spite of falling renewable costs, fossil fuel generation is still cheaper in most regards, except for one – the price of operation.

The WEC notes that once renewables are built and online, their costs are mainly marginal operational and maintenance expenses. Compare that to fossil fuels, whose costs are volatile and subject to change from factors like commodity price swings and external costs like carbon pricing and pollution.

This trend is most clearly seen in developed nations like Western Europe, America, and Australia, where the WEC says the potential for significant amounts of new coal generation to come online is low.

Today, developing nations buck this trend and coal is a growing generation source in Brazil, China, and India. In fact low capital costs make China the cheapest country to generate power from coal, less than half the LCOE in Europe or the US.

Coal LCOE by region chart via World Energy Council
Coal LCOE by region chart via World Energy Council

But the tide is starting to turn, evidenced by growing concerns about air pollution in China and the development of carbon markets in many of the world’s developing economies where fossil fuels have dominated generation.

Grid Parity For Renewables Fast Approaching

Put it all together, and it’s clear to see global energy economics are changing fast.

While coal still dominates global electricity production, renewables are catching up with net investment growing seven-fold from 2004-2011, outpacing fossil fuels for the second year in a row in 2012. And as more renewables come online, their costs continue to fall faster and faster from larger economies of scale.

The cost of most technologies, and most dramatically that of solar PV, is coming down with production scale-up in many areas of the world.

With such growth, grid parity will become reality in the coming years. — Dr. Christoph Frei, World Energy Council Secretary General

This article, Grid Parity, Low LCOE Driving 34% Global Renewables Capacity by 2030, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio Marcacci is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

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The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room | 10/03/13
by John Brian Shannon John Brian Shannon

For seven decades, petroleum provided North Americans with a comparatively cheap, plentiful, and reliable source of energy. And it happened to be a kind of energy that was particularly suited to our growing transportation needs.

Transportation CO2 emissions.
knowledge.allianz.com Image courtesy of: Bettina Fachinger

Back in Henry Ford’s day, all of the government subsidies directed towards the exploitation of oil and gas were easily absorbed by a large and upwardly mobile population, and the few gigatons of transportation CO2 and other gases that were added to the atmosphere then, were easily absorbed by the Earth’s natural systems.

In Henry’s day, agriculture was by far the biggest polluter, followed by industry, construction, and electricity production, transportation was far down the list.

Today of course, transportation is directly responsible for one-third of all airborne emissions, and added to that, are the emissions created in the manufacture of the parts necessary to build those millions of cars, trucks, trains, ships and airplanes. In 2013, it adds up to be a very large number indeed. The U.S. alone produces 7 billion tons of CO2 per year.

In an era of unaffordable U.S. budget deficits, direct subsidies to the petroleum industry are in excess of $4.86 billion dollars per year (on average) and when added to the various indirect government subsidies, have become dangerous to the overall economy.

For just one example of other subsidies supporting North America’s addiction to oil; Whose Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines have protected all that Middle East oil since 1932, and what is the grand total cost of that protection? Meanwhile, the environment subsidy in the U.S. is one that is far past the point of being able to absorb the total amount CO2 added to the atmosphere by the U.S.

U.S. Energy Subsidies Chart by DBL Investors.
U.S. Energy Subsidies Chart by DBL Investors.

Someone has to say it. The oil and gas industry, which once lifted the North American economy to unimaginable heights, has now become an unbearable burden to the economy and the environment, and the situation continues to worsen every year. Petroleum, is the 7 gigaton elephant in the room.

At least we only have one elephant in our room. By 2040, China will have four.

China is racing toward developed nation status. China produced 7.2 billion tons of CO2 in 2010, making it the world’s single biggest polluter. It estimated in 2008 that 410,000 people die from air pollution in China every year. It’s land area is similar in size to the U.S. although the U.S. has 311 million citizens (most households own at least one car) while China has 1.35 billion citizens, (where a majority of households will soon become car owners for the first time).

Huge tracts of forested land and grassland in both countries could conceivably capture and make use of, all the CO2 we produce, storing it for decades or even permanently — but only when forested areas and grasslands are not replaced with shopping malls and factories. Which is what has been happening at an accelerating pace since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

India, with less than half of the land area of China, but with a rapidly growing demographic, will be in even worse shape than the U.S. or China. By 2022, India will have 2 billion citizens, but with only half the available land area to absorb all that CO2. In addition, vast areas of land in India are unsuitable for the plant life which removes CO2 from the atmosphere.

At present only 1 billion people in the world have one car or more per household, have home electronics and washing machines, and are connected to an electrical grid (developed nation status). Six billion don’t. But six billion people are expected in the developed nations club by 2050.

For now, the undeveloped and emerging nations are carbon-neutral or better — while one billion live in developed nations which are (huge) net contributors to global pollution levels.

Oil and gas has lifted one billion people into developed nation status, and for that we should be grateful. But, with six billion more people joining the club, we won’t have breathable air in some cities unless we change our transportation fuel — and soon.

All else being equal, if we lower our airborne emissions by one-third by switching from petroleum to electricity for our transportation needs, we will be in acceptable shape. What damage has been done, has already been done — no use in crying over spilt milk. And even if we do successfully switch to electric vehicles, the plant life on the planet will still be working overtime to capture and sequester all CO2 produced by the agriculture and manufacturing sectors as they will continue to add unimaginable amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere.

The important point is to stop adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than the Earth systems can handle. A simple but profound switch away from oil and gas to electricity in our transportation sector can accomplish this goal.

Electric vehicles are presently making huge strides and in September 2013, the all-electric Tesla S was the best selling car in Norway. And really, why not? The Tesla S is a great drivers car, it features almost zero maintenance and it runs on electricity which is provided by a network of (renewable energy powered and conveniently located) Supercharger stations placed all over the country which are free to use for the life of the car. Not to mention the always-available Tesla buyback scheme, where Tesla will repurchase your used Tesla for a previously agreed-upon price.

Free electricity for Tesla cars, no airborne emissions from Tesla cars, and a guaranteed Tesla buyback program. This is the future of transportation!

India To Set Up Ultra Mega Solar Power Plant with 4,000 MW Capacity

by Mridul Chadha – Special to JBS News

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solar panels
Solar Panels Credit: Wayne National Forest | CC BY 2.0

The Indian government, in partnership with state-owned companies, is planning to set up the largest solar power plant in the world. The planned power project will have an installed capacity of 4,000 MW and will be located in the western state of Rajasthan.

The solar power project will be set up by a joint venture of five government-owned companies – BHEL, Powergrid Corporation, Solar Energy Corporation of India, Hindustan Salts, and Rajasthan Electronics & Instruments Limited. The first phase of the project will comprise of 1,000 MW and is expected to be commissioned in 2016. At 1,000 MW capacity the project will be about 10 times the largest solar power project currently under construction in India.

The capacity of 4,000 MW is very significant in the Indian context. Earlier this year a private utility, Tata Power, commissioned the first coal-fired Ultra Mega Power Plant (UMPP) of installed capacity 4,000 MW. Another three such projects of capacity 3,960 MW each are at various stages of construction.

Interestingly, all these projects are facing critical problems of fuel availability and, as a result, financial viability. These four UMPPs have been awarded to two companies – Tata Power and Reliance Power. These companies have filed petitions with the concerned authorities to allow them to increase the tariff of the electricity sold as they are struggling to access low-cost coal.

While the tariff at which the coal-fired UMPPs are expected to sell the electricity is considerably lower than the lowest tariff being offered by solar photovoltaic (PV) power project developers, the conventional power plants have several disadvantages apart from being environmentally unsustainable.

These power plants are almost completely dependent on imported fuel. Since these power plants have been built with a goal to generate electricity at a lower carbon intensity than other coal-based power plants, they cannot use Indian coal which have lower carbon content compared to imported coal.

Such large-scale renewable energy projects are essential for India’s long-term energy plans. Millions of people still lack access to electricity and India does not have much leeway in terms of greenhouse gas emissions as it is one of the largest emitters in the world.

Read other interesting news related to India’s solar power sector

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This article, India To Set Up Ultra Mega Solar Power Plant Of 4,000 MW Capacity, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Mridul Chadha Mridul Chadha currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.

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